Archive for the 'Events' Category

CSU’s Wurlitzer Organ’s Final Performance

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Friday, March 11th, is your last chance to hear CSU’s Wurlitzer Organ in action. The 84 year-old organ, originally designed to provide the sound of a 40-piece orchestra for silent films, has been at the university since 1983.

Visit CSU’s Calendar of Events for full details.

Valentine’s Day – Science Style!

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, why not send your sweetie a science-based card to show your love?

Find more science valentines here, here and here.

If you want to do something a little craftier, try folding a 3-D heart valentine.

Instructions here.

And if a paper heart just isn’t enough to show your affections, be sure to stop by the museum this Saturday for our Valentine’s Day Heartbreaker: Heart Dissections program. After all, nothing quite says “love” like dissecting a pig heart together!

The Valentine’s Day Heartbreaker: Heart Dissections program will happen Saturday, February 12,  from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center.

Harry Potter and the Periodic Table

by Toby Swaford, K-12 Eudcation Coordiantor

It’s no secret that the museum staff has its fair share of Harry Potter fans.  That’s why we’re thrilled to learn that Potter star Daniel Radcliffe is not only a fan of Tom Lehrer (another favorite of certain staff members) but choose to perform Lehrer’s famous chemistry song, “The Elements,” on a recent talk show appearance.  Harry Potter singing the Periodic Table – now that’s magic!

And for those of you who like a visual:

For more magical fun, join the museum for Harry Potter themed events at Fort Fun on Sunday, November 21st from 1:00 to 4:00 PM, and at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Saturday, November 27th. Come and join us for Butterbeer, Harry Potter-themed Starlab presentations, the Owls of Harry Potter and courses in Wizardology. More information on our website.

Halloween Candy Strategy

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Last year we helped prepare you for Halloween by scientifically showing that a pillowcase is the optimal collection vessel for maximum candy acquiring. This year? It’s all about developing a candy-specific strategy.

Hershey’s conducted a national survey to find out of correlations could be drawn between the types of houses people visit during Halloween, and the types of candy they get. The results? Visit a house with black shutters and you’re 77% more likely to get a Kit Kat. Stop by a ranch house, and those odds drop to 32%. If a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is more your style, you’ll want to be sure to visit two-story houses; they’re 26% more likely to have that candy than the ranch house that will probably give you the Kit Kat will. And finally, if all you want is a chocolate bar, try houses with brown doors. Whether or not people are matching their candy to their doors is still unknown, but it is known that you’re 32% more likely to get a Hershey’s bar than if you go to a house with a non-brown door.

Now, this study only look at Hershey’s brand candies, so the data is incomplete. What we need is a big-scale, repeatable experiment that compares multiple candy and housing variables. Its a big (and yummy) job, but someone has to do it. Now, who’s with me?!

Keep Looking Up

by Toby J. Swaford, K-12 Education Coordinator

The week holds a plethora of sky gazing opportunities.

First off, Saturday, September 18th will debut the very first International Observe the Moon Night. The evening is an offshoot of many programs that exist to explore and study Earth’s closest neighbor, including the very successful Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which has been sending back detailed images of the lunar surface. The moon will be in its waxing gibbous phase on Saturday, moving from a quarter to a full moon by Thursday, the 23rd of September.

As the moon moves through its phases, there will be a few objects competing for your attention in the night sky. Monday evening, September 20th and Tuesday morning, September 21st, will see Jupiter at its closest proximity to Earth in over 40 years. This will make Jupiter the second brightest object in the night sky after the moon. Jupiter will be visible throughout the evening, appearing almost directly overhead at midnight. As you’re looking for Jupiter you may also be able to see Uranus just above the giant planet. Unlike Jupiter, which is visible to the unaided eye, you’ll need a good pair of binoculars or a telescope to make out the tiny blue green Uranus.

If staying up until midnight isn’t your cup of tea, there’s also the chance for some early morning observations over the next few days with Mercury appearing low in the eastern sky about an hour before sunrise. The best days for viewing Mercury will be September 18, 19, & 20th. While Mercury will look like a pinkish colored light to the naked eye, a telescope may allow you to see the planet pass through a quick change of phases similar to those of our much slower moving moon.

Don’t worry if you don’t have your own telescope, because on Friday, September 24th, The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center, along with the Astronomy Department of Front Range Community College, will host the Star Nights program at the Stargazer Observatory. The event runs from 8:00 to 10:00 PM on Friday evening and will include the StarLab Planetarium program, access to the telescope at the Stargazer Observatory, and other hands-on activities. The program is offered free to the public, although registration is required due to limited availability. To make a reservation, please contact Toby Swaford at 970-416-2705, extension 2.

Couch Cushion Architecture Analysis

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Whew! All the excitement from Saturday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new Fort Collins Discovery Museum means that everyone in the museum still has architecture on the brain. While the architecture we’re thinking about at the moment is on the big we’re-building-a-whole-new-museum scale, there’s nothing to stop you from doing a little designing of your own. I’m talking, of course, about couch cushion forts!

Couch Cushion Fort

The team at Build Blog has compiled a two-part critique (Part 1, Part 2) of the various couch cushion architectural approaches. Did you know the importance of counter weights and Euclidian geometry, even when working with building materials of the pillow variety?

What are some of your fort-building successes? Were you a purist, only using the materials that came from a sofa, or were boxes, blankets, folding tables and family pets all fair game as construction materials? My triumph involved a refrigerator box, wallpaper samples, and a lot of finger paint. It’s probably best I wasn’t allowed anywhere near an actual couch.

New Museum Update: Groundbreaking!

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

We’ve had many new museum updates to share over the past year, but this Saturday is our biggest one yet: we’re breaking ground on the new museum, and you’re invited!

What: The Official Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Fort Collins Discovery Museum

When: Saturday, September 11th, from 2:00-5:00

Where: The site of the new museum, at the corner of Mason St. and Cherry St.

Family activities for all ages are scheduled from 2:00-3:30, and include clay brick making, architectural food structures, solar cookies and homemade root beer.

The Colorado State University Color Guard will post the colors at 3:15, follwed by the Official Children’s Groundbreaking at 3:30. The first 1,000 children will receive a commemorative Fort Collins Discovery Museum Groundbreaking shovel! Following a short presentation, the Dignitaries’ Groundbreaking will begin at 4:15. All members of the press are invited to attend a press conference at 4:30. Festivities will conclude at 5:00 with a presentation by Colorado State University Native Drum Group, Ram Nation.

We are so proud to belong to a community that has been supportive and encouraging about this project, and is as excited as we are to watch it become a reality. We hope you can all join us in celebrating this next big step in creating the new Fort Collins Discovery Museum.

History Mystery Registration- Last Call!

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

2009's Not-Quite-Champions "Deaf Leopards" Debating a Clue

For you last-minute slackers (sweet and well-meaning though you may be), Thursday (August 26th)* is the deadline to register your team for this Friday’s History Mystery Challenge.

Come and compete in a 90-minute race of a scavenger hunt throughout Old Town. Who will solve the most clues? Who will be sure to enjoy the yummy hors d’oeuvres and beverages? Who will walk away with our oh-so-cheesy door prizes?

All the registration information for The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center’s 2010 History Mystery Challenge can be found here. See you on Friday!

For coverage of last year’s Challenge, read on here and here.

*The original deadline was Wednesday, August 25th. But we love you so much, we’re giving you an extra day.

The buzz on vuvuzelas

by Toby J Swaford, K-12 Education Coordinator

Vuvuzelas. Photo from Wikimedia Commons, by the Dundas Football Club

The vuvuzela has an interesting history tied to the South African Shembe Church. Introduced by the prophet Isiah Shembe in 1910, the vuvuzela has been used in religious ceremonies for the past one hundred years. Similar to the kudu horn (made from the horn of a kudu antelope, of course) the vuvuzela was originally created from cane wood. When used properly, the horn is believed to produce miracles including the healing of the ill and injured.

One may ask, “If the vuvuzela can work wonders in the church, then why not on the football pitch?” Many members of the Shembe Church would carry their horns to the football matches that often followed their morning services. Some would compose songs for the vuvuzela to cheer on their favorite team. By the late 1980s, the elongated horns had become a regular sight at many matches throughout South Africa.

The ubiquitous plastic versions, frequently seen and constantly heard during World Cup matches, wouldn’t be introduced until the 90s when Neil van Schalkwyk began to manufacture the horns commercially.

The sound of the vuvuzela is produced by blowing a “raspberry” into the mouthpiece of the flared instrument. This causes the lips to open and close more than 200 times a second, setting up resonance within the horn. Producing sound at a frequency of roughly 235 hertz, the shape of the horn can set up harmonics ranging from 470 to 1630 hertz.

In the hands of a trained musician, the vuvuzela can produce pleasing tones much like a trumpet. Several thousand sports fans blowing into cheaply produced plastic versions of the horn can, on the other hand, sound like a swarm of slightly inebriated bees. This is where the problem lays.

Our hearing is a form of warning system that alerts us to potential danger. Constant sound may simply fall into the background as our brains process it as harmless white noise. Sudden changes in sound, however, may indicate danger and keep us more alert. The variations at which a large crowd of vuvuzela tooting football fans may be playing creates a constant shift in the sound, or droning, that makes us very aware of its presence. In the absence of any immediate danger, this sound becomes merely annoying.

Of course, the vuvuzela may present a danger itself. (No, I’m not talking about what you’d like to do to Mr. van Schalkwyk for introducing the instrument to the masses.) The danger comes in the sound levels produced by just one vuvuzela, let alone thousands playing in unison. Flared instruments, such as trumpets or saxophones, produce much louder notes than their straighter brethren the clarinet. The vuvuzela is capable of reaching 116 decibels at one meter, much louder than is recommended for extended exposure. Audience members tested directly after a match have shown signs of temporary hearing loss.

If you plan on attending a live match during World Cup, I recommend some form of hearing protection. If you’re trying to enjoy the match from home, there are a few measures you can take to increase your enjoyment and decrease your desire to stick your fingers in your ears and make “lalalala, I can’t hear you!” noises.

First, check your television to see if you can adjust the audio. Turning down the treble may work wonders in dampening a good portion of the drone. If you have a surround sound system, turning down the left and right speakers will eliminate most of the crowd noise while the game announcers will likely be directed through the center speaker. The internet is also offering a variety of solutions including MP3 files of white-noise designed to cancel out the vuvuzela , and programs intended to filter out the range in which the “buzzing” occurs. Be careful in what you try, as some of the internet remedies reportedly are more irritating than the situation they claim to fix.

World Cup is a fantastic event that allows people from around the planet to share not only in sport, but also history, culture, and science. Now, if we could just get a few other countries to participate in the World Series…

Real-life science

by Treloar Bower, Curator of Education

A Science Fair participant explains his project to judge Katie Bowell

Here’s one more blog post from our recent district-wide science fair. The projects I enjoyed most were the ones that had obvious real-life inspiration and application. Here’s a sampling of my favorites, in no particular order:

“Bad Bagels for Breakfast”

Claire Neff, 5th Grade, Rivendell School, Excellent Designation

Which bagel molds the fastest? The real-life application here is that if you are going camping, you should pack the bagels that mold last!  (By the way, in Claire’s investigation, the last-to-mold bagels are Albertsons’® bagels!)

“Rotting Bananas”

Alyssa Mather, 5th Grade, Putnam Elementary, Excellent Designation

Do bananas rot faster when kept in a bunch or separated? Alyssa concluded that bananas rot faster when stored individually, so keep your bananas in a bunch!

“Popcorn Science”

Elinor Jones, 5th Grade, O’Dea Elementary, Excellent Designation

Elinor compared popping statistics between different strains and brands of popcorn. Yellow is best, she says!

“No Oxide”

Emmett Halsey, 4th Grade, Bacon Elementary

Emmett explored rusting rates for metals (treated, painted and bare). His inspiration came from his mother’s rusty Jeep.

“Chocolate Chip Cookies for Everyone”

Emily Ray, 4th Grade, Bennett Elementary, Superior Designation

Emily has family members who have gluten allergies so she set out to replicate NESTLÉ® Toll House® chocolate chip cookies that are gluten-free. She tried a variety of flours, measuring grain size to determine impact on texture of the cookies and then held taste tests.

“Sharpie® Be Gone”

Evan Bergerson, 5th Grade, Kruse Elementary, Superior Designation

With a three-year-old in my house, I anticipate the day may come that I have to remove Sharpie® marker from a wall. Evan explored the Sharpie® removing-power of four cleaning methods in terms of effectiveness and impact to the surface of the item being cleaned. Evan has convinced me to use the Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser®.

“Aluminum Bat vs. Wooden Bat”

Christopher A. Lara, Jr., 5th Grade, Eyestone Elementary

Christopher compared the size of the “sweet spots” for both aluminum and wooden bats. My guess is that Christopher plays baseball and was investigating ways to maximize his hitting prowess!

“The Great Fade and Shrink”

Sara Knaack, 5th Grade, Rice Elementary

Sara determined that extend the life of your denim, it is best to turn your jeans inside out and wash them on cold. Of course, there are always people who want their denim faded…


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